‘Knowledge and determination’: Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard backs Berny Jacques for HD 59

“We need more conservative leaders like Berny Jacques in Tallahassee…”

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard wants to see former prosecutor and conservative TV analyst Berny Jacques take House District 59 this November.

Hibbard on Tuesday threw his support behind Jacques, a fellow Republican whom he described as having “tremendous support” from local community leaders.

“(He) has taken the time to understand the needs of our community,” Hibbard said in a statement. “We need more conservative leaders like Berny Jacques in Tallahassee who have the knowledge and determination to deliver real results for Florida families and small businesses.”

A lawyer and self-described “conservative activist,” Jacques’ professional has worked as an Assistant State Attorney for Florida’s 6th Judicial Circuit, an analyst for Spectrum Bay News 9 and served in appointed roles under Gov. Ron DeSantis and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri.

He is the current senior director of partnerships for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

“When you look at the fundraising reports, endorsements, and grassroots energy, you will see that our campaign is driven by local residents, not Tallahassee insiders and lobbyists,” Jacques said. “I am honored to have earned Mayor Hibbard’s endorsement because of the work I have done in our community, and I look forward to continuing that work in Tallahassee.”

Hibbard joins several other current and former elected officials backing Jacques, including U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, Pinellas County Commissioner Kathleen Peters, Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters and former state Rep. Larry Ahern, an early supporter of former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign who from 2010 to 2018 represented much of the area Jacques hopes to represent.

The Seminole Association of Firefighters has also announced its endorsement of Jacques.

Of note, Hibbard’s city of Clearwater is in House District 58, which abuts HD 59 on the north and west.

The newly drawn HD 59 is located in the center of Pinellas County and includes Largo, Seminole, parts of Pinellas Park and some of the county’s unincorporated neighborhoods.

Jacques previously ran for the district in 2018, when it was designated as House District 66. He lost the GOP Primary to Rep. Nick DiCeglie, who has held the seat ever since. DiCeglie is now running to succeed Jeff Brandes in the state Senate.

HD 59 leans heavily conservative, with nearly 50,000 registered Republican voters compared to about 38,000 Democrats and 34,000 independent voters.

Jacques leads the district field in fundraising with more than $218,000 collected through June 17, according to his filings with the Florida Division of Elections.

He faces two Primary opponents: Navy physician Dipak Nadkarni and former lobbyist and Republican staffer Jennifer Wilson, who has collected endorsements from both DiCeglie and Brandes.

The winner of that contest will take on Dawn Douglas, the only Democratic candidate to qualify in the race.